Medical Oncology

, 33:18 | Cite as

Long noncoding RNAs: new insights into non-small cell lung cancer biology, diagnosis and therapy

  • Biagio Ricciuti
  • Clelia Mencaroni
  • Luca Paglialunga
  • Francesco Paciullo
  • Lucio Crinò
  • Rita Chiari
  • Giulio Metro
Review Article


Recent advances in tiling array and high throughput analyses revealed that at least 87.3 % of the human genome is actively transcribed, though <3 % of the human genome encodes proteins. This unexpected truth suggests that most of the transcriptome is constituted by noncoding RNA. Among them, high-resolution microarray and massively parallel sequencing analyses identified long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) as nonprotein-coding transcripts. lncRNAs are largely polyadenylated and >200 nucleotides in length transcripts, involved in gene expression through epigenetic and transcriptional regulation, splicing, imprinting and subcellular transport. Although lncRNAs functions are largely uncharacterized, accumulating data indicate that they are involved in fundamental biological functions. Conversely, their dysregulation has increasingly been recognized to contribute to the development and progression of several human malignancies, especially lung cancer, which represents the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. We conducted a comprehensive review of the published literature focusing on lncRNAs function and disruption in nonsmall cell lung cancer biology, also highlighting their value as biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets. lncRNAs are involved in NSCLC pathogenesis, modulating fundamental cellular processes such as proliferation, cell growth, apoptosis, migration, stem cell maintenance and epithelial to mesenchymal transition, also serving as signaling transducers, molecular decoys and scaffolds. Also, lncRNAs represent very promising biomarkers in early-stage NSCLC patients and may become particularly useful in noninvasive screening protocols. lncRNAs may be used as predictive biomarkers for chemotherapy and targeted therapies sensitivity. Furthermore, selectively targeting oncogenic lncRNAs could provide a new therapeutic tool in treating NSCLC patients. lncRNAs disruption plays a pivotal role in NSCLC development and progression. These molecules also serve as diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers. Characterization of lncRNA genes and their mechanisms of action will enable us to develop a more comprehensive clinical approach, with the final goal to benefit our patients.


NSCLC Protein-coding genes Long noncoding RNAs Cancer epigenetics Biomarkers 


Compliance ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Biagio Ricciuti
    • 1
  • Clelia Mencaroni
    • 1
  • Luca Paglialunga
    • 1
  • Francesco Paciullo
    • 2
  • Lucio Crinò
    • 1
  • Rita Chiari
    • 1
  • Giulio Metro
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Oncology, Santa Maria della Misericordia HospitalAzienda Ospedaliera di PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Internal Medicine, Santa Maria della Misericordia HospitalAzienda Ospedaliera di PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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